2021 was a year full of incredible memories and milestones for Valon! Read on to learn more about what this year meant to us from our Co-Founders, COO, CCO, Head of Talent, and VP of Lending.
Last year was truly a challenging time for all of us. In the midst of a global pandemic, we had extremely ambitious plans to go from 0 to 100 in our journey to champion homeowners. And, to be quite honest, we had no clue how we were going to make that happen.
Let’s quickly walk through everything we were able to achieve as a team:
When we look to the future, I always find past learnings to be more important than ever.
2021 went by in the blink of an eye. In that time, we went from a small team of just Katy, Nisha, and myself, to a full-fledged Product organism! Whether it’s Content, Design, Product Operations, or Product Management, everyone in the Product org brought their unique perspectives to Valon. There truly is no word to express how humbled I am by the world-class people who’ve entrusted their futures in Valon’s team, vision, and mission.
Looking back at the last 12 months, it’s hard to fathom the quantity and complexity of projects we accomplished together. We executed a total company rebrand, landed critical features for homeowners and Servicing team members, managed a host of Fannie payments and reporting projects, and adhered to arcane 30+ year old credit reporting standards. None of these would have been possible without the team’s care and dedication to details!
That said, the most memorable moments were the fun we had as friends. I treasure our local boba hangs, doggy dates, and barbecuing after work during our visits to the Arizona office. I couldn’t ask for a more close-knit org!
We achieved what seemed to be impossible at the beginning of the year. Lots of sacrifices, lots of going above and beyond, and certainly lots to still improve. But we were able to onboard over 15,000 mortgages onto our platform in a 31-day period, which is a huge testament to the Engineering team and everyone at Valon. Our phenomenal Engineering team more than doubled, from 14 to 31, in order to continually improve our technology platform. We’ve turned our story into a real functioning business. It’s humbling to think that we’re handling the mortgages of over 24,000 real people across the country.
In 2022, the Engineering team is looking forward to proving to the world that our technology platform is the best suited to champion homeowners on their financial journey. We’ll do that by scaling our systems to serve even more homeowners, improving the efficiency of our backend systems, and improving the homeownership experience to make handling your mortgage a delight. I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish in 2022!
By all measures, 2021 was a year of immense growth for Valon!
It would have been unthinkable to accomplish what we did in 2021 without our extraordinary Operations team. What we’re trying to do is very difficult and I’m proud to work with such dedicated, top-notch people. I want to give a big thank you to everyone on our team—and of course, to our investors and homeowners—who are all on this journey with us to transform the homeownership experience in the US.
This is only the beginning. We believe the most important measure of success is how much value we can deliver to our homeowners in the long run. This means giving homeowners the experience that they deserve. In 2022, we will continue to focus on execution and invest in our long-term vision.
Compliance supported the entire organization with an extremely lean team of just three individuals at the end of 2021. The team led Valon’s efforts to obtain Freddie Mac and FHA servicing approvals and facilitated structured investor and client due diligence reviews. In addition to its bi-annual compliance testing, the team partnered with a vendor to conduct a full servicing audit ensuring proper controls were in place and that processes and products were operating as designed. The team also led 13 state exams during the year without disruption to the business. The team will scale in 2022 to continue to support the organization and new lines of business.
Growth and speed are the two words that come to mind when recapping 2021. Not only has the People team grown from 0 to 8 (yes, everybody joined within 2021), but we’ve also hired incredibly talented Valonians across more than 13 states. We’ve expanded the two offices into three (Bay Area office, we’ll see you in Q1!), and ultimately went from 26 employees to 123. This is no easy feat with remote work and then returning to the office with hybrid work (and then remote work again?). Our employees have been agile, understanding, and kind to one another during this year of uncertainty.
I’m so proud of the foundations that we’ve built. As we look into 2022, we’ll continue to hire great talent—people who are caring and mission-driven. We’ll pursue new initiatives in 2022 so our employees can make a valuable impact at Valon and grow in their careers alongside the company.
Valon kicked off yet another business initiative—Lending—in early 2021. The vision was to provide simple, convenient, and affordable financing for customers on the Valon platform. I joined Valon in April as the founding Lending team member and was quickly joined by a core group of lending ops leaders. After a few months of laying the groundwork, we closed our first loan in September and ran a successful beta program for the remainder of the year (consisting of a double-digit number of loans). Even over that short period of time, we made great strides in both our lending operations and technology. This improved our close times from well over 60 days for our first test loan to consistently within 30 days for our latest batch of loans. In between, we integrated more than ten external vendors, established three warehouse lines, onboarded six investors, and built our procedures from the ground up.
Coming into 2022, we are welcoming several new Lending team members and moving out of our beta phase and into scaling. We’re eager to continue automating the mortgage process, building out our data capabilities, ramping up operations, and, of course, serving more Valon homeowners.
Goodbye 2021, hello 2022!